“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
― Maya Angelou

3 Reasons Diaries Are Essential to Your Story

diaries

When I was in high school, a drama teacher that I had my sophomore year made everyone in my class keep a journal. He kept them in his office, but never read them, and we would write every morning we had class. Some of us took the exercise more seriously than others (there was a minimum three line requirement), but after that year, he gave us the notebooks to keep. I had enjoyed journaling so much that I continued through my senior year and every summer that I worked at camp. When I was on the World Race, I kept a journal and filled it with stories, song lyrics that had meaning to me, a couple of creative writing exercises, and musings on the day’s events. It was a great way for me to get my thoughts recorded, although it wasn’t the prettiest writing I’ve ever done, and I’m sure other people who were participants in the retold stories might remember events differently than my versions.

If you’re looking for an alternative way to tell a story, there are a couple reasons to try a diary or epistolary format.

Parataxis and Hypotaxis: How Greek Makes You a Better Writer

My elementary school experience included three years of Latin in fourth through sixth grade. Believe it or not, that language learning actually came in handy when middle school French rolled around. It has also come in handy when breaking down literary terms, many of which have their origins in Latin or Greek. Today’s Greek words: […]

Parallelism: Keep Your Verb Tenses Consistent

parallelism

A few weeks ago, our group of friends was planning a potluck. One of the girls said she was planning on making vegetarian chili, cornbread, or baking cookies. I cringed internally because the flow of the sentence was wrong and hurt me on the inside. The issue: mismatched parallelism.

Why Grammar Matters

grammar

If there’s one significant thing that Joe and I have historically disagreed on, it’s the role of grammar in a writer’s toolbox. We complement each other well because as much as I love grammar and sentence structure, he equally embraces the dismissal of commas and the implementation of run-on sentences for art’s sake. When you get down to brass tacks though, I have to admit that he kind of has a point: grammar is somewhat arbitrary.

I vs. Me: Being Self Centered Can Be Good

I vs. me

We all know there is a difference between I and me. Simply put, “I” is a subject, “me” is an object. Generally speaking, there aren’t any issues when you’re only referring to yourself.

The confusion starts when your first person character is joined by third person companions.

Relative Pronouns: How Not to Ruin a Sentence

relative pronouns

Oh, relative pronouns. You crazy, crazy kids. You can cause so much frustration with your misplaced thats, whos, and whichs. Let’s have a chat and sort you all out, shall we?

Let’s say you’re telling a story about Weston, a neurologist with a bionic elbow. When do you use which relative pronoun?

Lay vs. Lie

lay vs lie

We’re tackling one of the less obvious grammatical foibles today. Did you know that there is a difference between lay and lie? Because there is! Let’s explore.

Other than the definition of “to tell an untruth,” lay and lie are often used interchangeably. But lay is a transitive verb, meaning it requires a subject and one or more objects. Lie, on the other hand, is an intransitive verb, which means that it doesn’t need an object.

So if you wanted to say that you (the subject) lay on the floor (the object) in the fetal position all day yesterday, that’s correct. If you said that you lay in said position all day regularly, that would be wrong.

How to Use Either, Neither, Or, and Nor Correctly

neither nor

My mother seems to appreciate having a grammar lover in the family. For Christmas one year, she bought me the book I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar. (By the way, it is equally correct to say “bad grammar.”) Last week, my mother emailed to ask if she was using the word “nor” correctly, which brings me to today’s post: the use of either, neither, and the connecting words that go with them.

How Are You? Good vs. Well

Good vs Well

When someone asks you, “How are you?” how should you respond? Should you say, “I’m good,” or, “I’m well?” Which is correct grammatically: good or well.

Since “how are you?” became a standard greeting, the use of good vs. well has been hotly disputed. Let’s straighten this confusion out.

What Do You Think About Grammar?

What Do You Think About Grammar

Grammar is one of those funny things that everyone needs to know but that not everyone agrees on.